Student police officers have to undertake a ‘Community Attachment’ as part of their training which gives insight into the work of partners and the circumstances of the specific community involved. The community attachments take place after the student police officers have finished their initial training and have worked operationally in company with tutors. The community attachments assist officers as they progress in their careers by broadening their perspective. Supporting student police officers to have a greater understanding of mental health issues and showing them the work we do in supporting people with mental health means that we are equipping the new generation of police officers to offer a more empathetic, understanding and informed response to people with mental health issues. We are increasing their knowledge of the vulnerabilities of this community and helping us to work more effectively as partners.
Please briefly describe your project, group, team or service, outlining what you do and why it makes a difference.
The police are commonly a first point of contact for a person in a mental health crisis and it is estimated that up to 15% of police incidents have a mental health dimension. Relationships between police forces and health and social care services can be difficult, with limited common understanding of the roles that each plays in keeping people safe and well. In Sheffield we wanted to improve the relationship between the police and adult mental health services by helping staff learn more about each other’s roles while also empowering police officers to support people with mental health problems in a more positive way. We believe that this has the potential to improve patient safety as well as the safety of police officers, the public, and our staff. This project brings the police and mental health services together to · increase police officers’ knowledge and awareness of mental health · reduce the inequality of people in crisis receiving mental health care. By working better and more closely together we can provide the best care possible for people with mental health problems and their families. Together with colleagues at South Yorkshire Police we brainstormed how best we could achieve our objectives. Student police officers have to undertake a ‘Community Attachment’ as part of their training which gives insight into the work of partners and the circumstances of the specific community involved.
The community attachments take place after the student police officers have finished their initial training and have worked operationally in company with tutors. The community attachments assist officers as they progress in their careers by broadening their perspective. Supporting student police officers to have a greater understanding of mental health issues and showing them the work we do in supporting people with mental health means that we are equipping the new generation of police officers to offer a more empathetic, understanding and informed response to people with mental health issues. We are increasing their knowledge of the vulnerabilities of this community and helping us to work more effectively as partners. The pilot began with a day’s introduction to the Trust including a welcome from a senior manager and mandatory training covering infection control and prevention, information governance and confidentiality, fire safety and risk management. A clinician and a service user delivered an ‘Introduction to Mental Health’ session and de-escalation training is provided by our RESPECT training team. We also provide a presentation on the current interfaces between the police and our services, a session on safeguarding vulnerable people and guidance on expectations. The police officers then have a local induction in their allocated area. Each police officer undertakes a two week placement. Each clinical service has no more than two police officers on placement at a time. The police officers have a community engagement workbook to complete following the placement which covers what they were involved in and what they learnt from the experience. We also finish the placement with a two hour feedback session with the Trust. The aim is for all new police officers to go through this process which will positively impact on police culture and their understanding of mental health as well as individual practice
What makes your service stand out from others? Please provide an example of this.
The police placements at our Trust stand out due to the commitment of staff in providing opportunities for the officers whilst on placements. These opportunities include a reflective session, feedback and on-going learning from each placement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGT1LYq_D5w (please click the above link to see a video) The project is funded entirely through existing resources, the cost pressure is considered minimal in comparison to the benefit of health staff, service users and police. One police officer came into contact on a placement with a person they had arrested the week before and had an opportunity to talk through the incident with the person. Both the police officer and service user found this incredibly useful in understanding each others perspectives.
How do you ensure an effective, safe, compassionate and sustainable workforce?
Police placements will have been of benefit to our staff as they get to learn more about the role of the police and the pressures they face alongside sharing their own views, thoughts and experiences. Staff will be upskilled in terms of their knowledge of policing and procedures and how their services interact with our own. An induction day is held, which covers essential training but also the opportunity for police officers to share their own learning objectives and any hopes or fears they have about the placement. The induction which is conducted by staff and service users has had brilliant feedback – especially the session delivered by a service user who shares her own experiences of mental health and contact with the police. The police placement coordinator maintains regular contact with each police officer and placement areas throughout the 2 weeks in order to provide support and address any issues as they arise. A ‘reflective practice’ session is held for the police officers at the end of their placement which offers the opportunity to share positive learning experience, feedback on areas for improvement but is also a place to talk about any emotionally difficult situations they came across. This is vital to ensure the psychological safety of the officers before they return to their operational roles.
Who is in your team?
The key members of the police placement scheme are: Leanne Brouder, police placement coordinator, SHSC Debbie Creaser, Team manager, community enhancing recovery team, SHSC Richard Bulmer, service director, SHSC Amy Richards, Business and performance manager, SHSC Jane Lees, Training and development lead, SYP All contributing team members of this project dedicate their time alongside their substantive roles.
How do you work with the wider system?
We set up a project group including senior managers and clinicians. The project group led on the development with weekly meetings which were overseen by the Clinical Operations Change and Improvement Group. We identified a lead person, Police Sergeant Jane Lees, to work with us on the programme. Clinical services were a key part of the project group and a broad range of placements opportunities were identified in inpatient and community settings. We worked to establish placements for police officers to spend time with our clinical services, learning more about mental health and broadening partnership working. We undertook an initial pilot of eight police officers in March 2018 on a two week placement. Following the pilot we had a dedicated debrief session with everyone involved not just to learn about their experiences and think about improvements but also to look at opportunities to expand to other blue light services and clinical areas. We used all the feedback to improve the programme and for our future planning.
To date sixty-six police officers have taken part in the programme. Twelve of our clinical services have also been involved: Community Enhanced Recovery Team (CERT), Liaison Service (providing mental health assessment and input to patients of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FT), Burbage Ward, Stanage Ward, Maple Ward (all adult acute mental health inpatient wards), G1 Ward (dementia inpatient ward), Gender Identity Service, Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, Mental Health Recovery Team (North), Intensive Rehabilitation Service (inpatient service for adults with serious mental health conditions), Assessment and Treatment Service (inpatient service for people with a learning disability and/or autism and challenging behaviour) and the Single Point of Access for adult mental health services (mental health crisis service). We have a wide variety of people involved in the programme who are all keenly invested in its successful continuation. We are constantly expanding the number of clinical services within the Trust who are involved in the programme so that if certain areas are unable to accommodate placements at specific times, there are others that are able to do so. It also enables us to broaden the experience that we are able to offer to police officers.
Do you use co-production approaches?
There has been a service user involved in the project delivering sessions at the induction and playing a vital part in a review of the scheme. She has been able to share her views and experiences of the police in conjunction with mental health services, this has worked well as the feedback has been very positive in terms of her session and how it helped the police officers. The original hope was that there would be significant benefit to our service users and service as we would receive more appropriate 136 referrals coming in, street triage will be improved and police officers will have a general better understanding of mental health and how to deal with it on the frontline, therefore potentially relying on our services less. This has been evidenced by a police officer coming into contact with a service user while on duty and making a call to our switch board to get in contact with the persons mental health team and possibly averting the use of the 136 suite. On another occasion the service user who delivers the training experienced a difficult time in a public place, one of the key messages that she delivers during the training is that she often does not feel safe and may sit on the floor as a way of feeling more contained. In the past when police have intervened they have stood around her causing her to feel intimidated, she hoped that by sharing her story she could help people to understand this and by coming down to her level can minimize the distress she experiences which this officer did.
Do you share your work with others? If so, please tell us how.
We recently released a video detailing the stories and experiences from the police, service users and heath staff involved in the project. This has been shared on social media and also with local news.
What outcome measures are collected, how do you use them and how do they demonstrate improvement?
The expected benefits are police officers having a better understanding of mental health and how to interact more positively with people with a mental health condition in the community. It is expected that having a greater understanding of mental health conditions and the local services provided in Sheffield will allow police officers to signpost and direct people to the services they need more easily, helping people to access support, treatment and care as needed. It is also expected that this will lead to more appropriate use of the Section 136 beds, improve the Street Triage service offered in partnership with the police and allow the police and mental health services to work together more productively with increased sensitivity and compassion for people experiencing mental health problems. It is also expected that our staff will benefit from a greater understanding of the work that the police do, helping them to appreciate the difficult job that the police do and the local issues that they face. It will also help our service users to build relationships and see police officers as human beings rather than viewing the police as punitive or controlling. People with mental health conditions can have a very negative view of the police based on past experience. Taking part in this programme will help humanise the police and build positive relationships.
We believe that there will be a demonstrable positive impact on patient safety following this programme with services working together better to treat people with mental health conditions with compassion, respect and empathy. We also hope that the programme will help to reduce the stigma and discrimination that many people with mental health conditions still sadly face in society. 97% of participants said they would recommend the placement as a valuable learning experience. 92% felt that the learning opportunities available in the placement enabled them to achieve their learning outcomes. 97% of officers would recommend the police placement scheme to other officers 97% of officers said the police placement scheme provided them with experience of working inter professionally
Participants were asked to give a one word description of their placement. Words selected included: ‘useful’, ‘informative’, ‘eye-opening’, ‘insightful’, ‘valuable’, ‘challenging’, ‘beneficial’, ‘interesting’, ‘engaging’, ‘improving understanding’, ‘positive’, and ‘friendly’. Feedback from one police officer who completed a two week placement with the Liaison Service and the Intensive Rehabilitation Service: “The experience I have had will give me valuable skills and knowledge to take forward into my policing career and will allow me a better understanding of mental health which I come across, first hand, every day in my line of work . . . I am aware that in the past the mental health services have not had the greatest experience with the police and vice versa. I feel that people suffering from mental health problems have been failed by the police in the past due to their lack of understanding and tolerance . . . I feel strongly that all new police officers and current serving officers should have the opportunity to attend the programme as this would allow South Yorkshire Police to develop their understanding of mental health beyond the initial training we receive and allow for the two organisations to work more efficiently together in the future on issues regarding mental health.”
Has your service been evaluated (by peer or academic review)?
How will you ensure that your service continues to deliver good mental health care?
We have a wide variety of people involved in the programme who are all keenly invested in its successful continuation. We are constantly expanding the number of clinical services within the Trust who are involved in the programme so that if certain areas are unable to accommodate placements at specific times, there are others that are able to do so. It also enables us to broaden the experience that we are able to offer to police officers. Recently, we have expanded the placements available to include our inpatient dementia ward and our inpatient service for adults with a learning disability and/or autism with challenging behaviour. This was in direct response to feedback from police officers and from our own services. We have learnt to be flexible in the shift patterns offered to the police officers on placement and to ‘buddy up’ each officer with a committed and welcoming member of staff. Each member of staff who works on the programme is deeply committed to providing valuable learning opportunities for the officers while on placement. Some of the suggestions from the officers have been to roll out the programme to longer standing officers. A feedback event also resulted in suggestions such as offering a similar opportunity to South Yorkshire ambulance service and Accident and Emergency staff.
What aspects of your service would you share with people who want to learn from you?
Excellent results can be achieved with the drive and passion of staff with minimal resources. Challenge- learning opportunities During the pilot the police fed back that they felt two weeks was too long in one placement area and so we altered the two weeks to facilitate a week in a community setting and one on a ward setting to gain more diverse experiences. Challenge- learning opportunities There have been times when high clinical activity or high numbers of students in one area/service has meant that there has been limited learning opportunities. Where possible we try to relocate officers to other placement areas. The police placement coordinator keeps in contact with the police and placement areas at all times. Challenge- Identification In some areas the police officers felt that a badge identifying them as police could be counter productive and cause distress/fear to service users. We agreed to take a very open and honest approach as it was equally important for service users to understand the perspectives of a police officer as well as it was for a police officer to understand a service user perspective. Challenge- Service user apprehension As a new project there was some uncertainty from service users who have had negative interactions with the police. One team in the trust worked alongside other service users, staff and police officers to compile a leaflet to share with other people utilizing the service.
What inequalities have you identified regarding access to, and receipt and experience of, mental health care?
Those who come to the police in crisis may receive a different standard of service and care than those who are seen by mental health professionals due to the lack of experience and expertise. This project aims to increase police officers knowledge and awareness of mental health to reduce the inequality of people in crisis receiving mental health care.
What is your service doing to address and advance equality?
By working with police officers who work across Sheffield the project aims to reduce stigma of mental health and raise awareness of the issues people have and the services available to those in need. Service users will get a better service from police officers as a result.
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